Revenue department releases new rules for craft brewers, distillers

[private]The state Revenue Department announced a set of new rules that would govern how craft brewers and distillers can include the cost of their products in the price of tickets to tasting parties held as part of guided tours of their manufacturing facilities.

The revised regulations were released Monday and are open for public comment until May 6. Once the new rules are adopted, the agency will send them on to the Secretary of State’s office and they will take effect 20 days later.

The revenue department had reached an unofficial agreement in January between craft brewers and beer wholesalers on the revamping of the proposed regulations, but it took more than two months for the revisions to be released.

“We’re in our busiest time of the year between the legislative session and tax season,” revenue spokesman William Gaston said. “I think we got it done as quickly as possible.”

The proposed rules, which drew favorable reactions from lobbyists for both sides of the industry, would allow craft brewers and distillers to apply for up to six “special events permits” in a calendar year, providing that they apply at least 10 days prior to the event.

Attendees are limited to “not more than three samples of distilled spirits for consumption on the premises from a licensed facility per calendar day. Each individual sample shall not exceed one half of one ounce.”

For breweries, the tour attendees can receive free tastings of “not more than 36 ounces of malt beverage” per calendar day.

Admission fees to the facility tours “may vary based on the amount and quality of alcohol included in free tastings and the free souvenir.”

The tasting tours are allowed as part of HB 63, a bill passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal last year.

However, the first set of rules drafted by the revenue department was opposed by craft brewery representatives, who said the regulations were overly influenced by the beer wholesalers officials.

Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta), who sponsored HB 63, complained that the agency had “neutered” his bill with its overly restrictive rules and Speaker David Ralston threatened to have a new bill passed if the revenue department didn’t make some changes in the proposed regulations – changes that were subsequently made after negotiations between the two sides.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report


Tags: craft brewers , distilleries , facility tours , revenue department , tasting parties